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Working in Switzerland

Here you can find some informations about working in Switzerland.

Dental hygiene education began in Switzerland in 1975 with the opening of the first school in Zurich. Today, there are three additional schools (Geneva, Zurich and Bern). From these four schools around 70 dental hygienists graduate each year. Thus, employment possibilities for foreign hygienists are now limited.

Dental hygienists with a valid license or diploma in dental hygiene and at least one full year of private practice or public health experience are eligible for employment in Switzerland.

You need to contact the Swiss Red Cross, they are responsible for the recognitions of diplomas:

Schweizerisches Rotes Kreuz
Anerkennung Ausbildungsabschlüsse
Werkstrasse 18
CH-3084 Wabern

Tel: +41 (0)900 733 276

Every foreign dental hygienist must have a valid work permit before arriving in the country. After a dentist has contacted you for employment and you have signed a contract, he will procure the necessary work permit from local authorities. You must complete an application for a visa and send it to the Swiss consulate nearest your home. Once it is granted, the consulate will require your passport so that the permit can be stamped. The entire process can take several months (3 to 6) so be prepared for the wait.

There are four official languages in Switzerland. The majority of the population speaks German (or a German dialect) and the remainder French or Italian. We strongly suggest that you enrol in a language course before coming. Being able to communicate will greatly enhance your chances of obtaining employment and enrich your stay in Switzerland.

Once established in our country, Swiss Dental Hygienists will be happy to welcome you as an associate or full member, with accordant privileges, such as continuing education courses, legal advice and other membership benefits.

The decision to come to Switzerland should not be made lightly. You will need to adjust to new ideas, customs and laws. Discuss it with your family and your friends. However, if you decide to come, it will be a memorable personal and professional experience.

The work day begins in most cases at 8.00 am, goes until 12.00 noon, and depending on the office, continues from 1.00 to 5.00 pm or 2.00 to 6.00 pm. Average full-time employment is 42 hours a week. By law you are entitled to four weeks of vacation and national holidays.

Depending on the office, the time of the year that one takes vacation can be negotiated or it can fall at fixed periods of the year. These details will be discussed with your employer.

According to guidelines set up by the Swiss Dental Association, each foreign dental hygienist, regardless of previous experience, earns a fixed salary in the first year of employment which ranges from 4'679.- to 5'211.-- Swiss Francs monthly. After the first year of employment, your salary will be adapted within these guidelines according to the total years of professional experience you have. Based on your monthly salary, the appropriate taxes, social security and retirement plan deductions will be made for you by your employer.

There are agreements between the United States (some other countries as well) and Swiss governments which state that:

  • Social security payments can be credited to your account in the United States upon your return.

  • You must file a US tax return claiming your Swiss income. This will enable you to credit Swiss taxes paid on your US tax return forms. Your income is taxed only once.

Two items of particular interest to anyone moving to a foreign country are housing and medical insurance. It is customary for your employer to help you acquire proper housing. However, the monthly rent is your responsibility. Apartment living is the norm, and rental space is at a premium, so expect to budget more of your monthly salary for housing. Studios and one room apartments are common for singles.

Medical insurance is required. Health insurance from other countries may not be valid when you are a legal resident. If you plan to do any travelling, make sure that your policy covers everything while you are travelling throughout Europe. Accident insurance is also required of Swiss residents. Your employer will probably have a group policy coverage which will be more economical for you than an individual policy. He or she can advise you.